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Global info sharing. You’d be surprised how small the world is.

Nov 26, 2014News

Unions right across the world share similar concerns and issues. Within the rail industry, the similarities between the challenges faced by our division and similar divisions interstate and overseas are even more closely aligned.

For this reason, information sharing between unions is vitally important.

Below is a message from Keith McMahon, who recently attended the Rail and Maritime Transport Union New Zealand International conference on behalf of the NSW Loco Division.

Firstly, I would like to thank the NSW Locomotive Division – Divisional Council for the opportunity to attend the Rail and Maritime Transport Union New Zealand International conference along with Sam Simonetis (representing the RTBU National Office) and David Mathie (NSW Locomotive Division).

It was a great honour to be amongst comrades from other countries around the world to quantify various angles of what is a global attack on union values and the struggles that they have endured.

The attendance of the international guests presented a theme of struggles and fights that have been endured with great passion. Our English counterparts (Mick Whelan, Dave Calfe of ASLEF & Derrick Marr of RMT) clearly have had their hands full with the Governments of the day, starting with Thatcher of course, and the realm of privatisation. Their presentation make it very clear that casualisation in the UK is ripe – the term ‘Zero Hours Agreement’ is reflective that move.

Our colleague from Japan, Mr. Mitsuhiro Hagiwara (JRU) spoke of the need to fight for workers’ rights & also fight to stay out of prison! His brush with jail didn’t come about as a result of anything illegal; simply protecting the rights of his workers.

The various delegates from rail and maritime shared their issues with us, and the need to meet constant and often unrealistic productivity levels was a common theme. Another common thread was that companies will do about anything to achieve their KPI’s to keep their positions at anyone’s expense – be it cost, conditions and/or employees’ welfare.


Points of note taken from the conference were:

  1. Zero Hours agreement
  2. Same Values
  3. Membership
  4. Organisation/Structure
  5. Importance of sharing information (doesn’t matter what the level of significance)
  6. No Whistles – Mandate by isolation
  7. Utilise the Safety Legislation pertaining to the area
  8. Government

My presentation focused on what NSW Locomotive Division has achieved and where we are standing at the moment. I spoke about how over the years we operated with union and safety delegates working together in relation to rolling stock upgrades, health and welfare and of course awards and conditions. On reflection the NSW Locomotive Division has achieved a level of excellence in representing, gaining and maintaining a lifestyle that some at the conference were in awe of! The Maritime representatives were particularly impressed with how the structure worked within our union.


Asbestos concerns relating to the Chinese made DL Locomotives were also discussed, with a focus on how it was discovered in South Australia and Victoria, and then how NSW notified our counterparts in New Zealand. This was one of the examples of sharing information. This event highlighted the point that even in this day and age of open global markets we as a union must maintain vigilance against the use of the insidious asbestos across the boundaries.